Face of Defense: Airman Describes Her Journey From Pro Basketball to Service

“When you first go out there, you’re nervous,” said Air Force 1st Lt. Brittnie Davis, Air Mobility Command intelligence officer, as she described what it’s like to be on the court during a professional Australian basketball game.

“You have the lights on you. You have people in the crowd. You put a lot of pressure on yourself thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got to do good,’ but after the ball tips, your focus is all on basketball at that point.”

Davis’ formal basketball career began when she asked Troy University’s coach if she could try-out as a walk on after she was not recruited.

“He said no one had walked onto the team in 10 years, and I was up for the challenge,” Davis said. “My freshman year I walked on.”

Making the team was only the beginning. It would take hours of practice for Davis to work her way onto the court.

“There were girls who could out-shoot me, who were faster than me, but I was like, ‘I have to out-work them,’” Davis said. “Eventually, I was able to shoot better and run faster because of all the hard work.”

Basketball Scholarship

Davis’ dedication to improvement impressed her coach, who offered her a full scholarship for her sophomore year.

“By my junior year I was starting,” Davis said, “and I led my team in scoring my senior year.”

Her motivation and talent did not go unnoticed by her teammates, some of whom were Australian exchange students. They connected her with the Waratah League, a semi-professional league in New South Wales, Australia.

“One of them came to me and said, ‘Hey, what do you think about playing in Australia?’ and just like that, I ended up on a 14-hour flight to Australia,” Davis said.

Davis played for the Newcastle Hunters, one of 10 teams in the league.

“Going around, travelling, seeing different parts of a whole different continent was amazing,” she said. “The competition was different compared to college. It was, of course, a lot better. So it challenged me even more to play at a different level.”

Joining the Air Force

After a year with the Hunters, Davis decided to return to the United States, but she began to miss the camaraderie she’d felt on her team. That was when she became interested in joining the military.

“Connecting with the team, it just wasn’t hard because you have one goal,” Davis said. “That’s the one thing I missed because you have one goal, and you’re fighting for the same thing. I was like, ‘Do I really want to find a regular job?’”

In 2012, Davis enlisted as an X-ray technician. However, with a master’s degree under her belt, she was determined to earn a commission.

“I always knew I wanted to become an officer,” Davis said, “and I knew the only way I would do that is to do better than my peers, and that’s not stepping on people or being mean to other people to try to get up. If you see where you can help someone else, you help them, but you just give it your all, regardless, and it does pay off.”

Davis was rewarded for her dedication when she became an intelligence officer in 2016.

“Hard work pays off,” she said. “I know that sounds cliché, but I’m serious. It works!”